In the world of power metal, that is very limited for experimentation, you can very rarely find a band that mixes all kinds of elements in unthinkable proportions, at the same time creating an album that deserves being on Annual Top 5 of any power metal fan. Sweden’s newcomers Timeless Miracle are such a rare band. Having released their debut album “Into The Enchanted Chamber”, the four-piece immediately made a serious claim to the global supreme league of the genre. While the world is slowly, but steadily getting infected with the sweet drug of their music, we offer you an interview with one of the band’s founding members, bassist and singer Mikael Holst.
First of all, could you tell us a few words about the recording of your debut CD “Into The Enchanted Chamber”? How was it like working with Anders Theander and Pontus Lindmark? Were the studio sessions fun or a tough job to do?
We began recording the drum tracks at RoastingHouse Studios in August 2004 and it took about a week to do. After the drums were finished we changed location and recorded the vocals, guitars, bas, keyboards and violin tracks at Trapped Studios. We chose to record everything (vocals, guitar etc) for one song at a time instead of doing one instrument a time for the entire album. The reason for this was that we were then able to mix and record simultaneously and save a lot of time. After all the songs were recorded, we went back to RoastingHouse to do the final mix. Working with Anders and Pontus was a very pleasant experience, because we had more or less free hands to do what we wanted but at the same time were able to get help whenever we needed it. Working in the studio under a certain time pressure can be very exhausting but it's also very fun work to do, so no one really minded putting in the long hours needed.
The album presents quite a unique combination of horror-movies-like lyrics and positive melodies that “happy power metal bands” use. How did you arrive at such combination?
In the very early days of Timeless Miracle we were discussing what kind of theme or image we should use and came to the conclusion that horror-movie-inspired lyrics would be pretty cool. I am a big fan of horror and creature movies so it’s very easy for me to come up with lyrics on this subject. Another reason for it was that we didn’t want to use the sword-and-dragon fantasy themes that are pretty standard in this genre.
There is a song "Curse Of The Werewolf" on the album and another one called "Return Of The Werewolf" - is that some kind of dilogy? Is there a connection between these two songs or did you just want to make one song about a man feeling a wolf inside of him and another one when the wolf is already in full control of his body?
The only connection in these songs is that it’s meant to be the same werewolf in both of them. There is no direct crossover in the story line between them or anything like that. It’s pretty much as you said in the question, one song about the metamorphosis from man to wolf and the other one hunting and killing in complete transformation.
There are a lot of violins
and flutes and whistles-like sounds on the album. Would you like to continue exploring that direction of music and maybe transform your style in something like "folk power metal" in the future? Or would that always be just a pleasant addition for the listener?
There will probably be more and more classical / folk music inspired songs on the forthcoming albums because this is something we really enjoy doing and listening to. But I don’t believe we’ll ever turn into a pure “folk metal” band.
Most of the songs on album are very fast. Are you fans of the early Blind Guardian way of making songs? Or was that unintentional?
I consider the early Blind Guardian albums to be groundbreaking in many ways and I have to admit that they have been a huge influence. However, we draw influences from many bands, among others Helloween and Running Wild, and most of those bands have pretty fast songs. There’s just something about speed that enhances the melodies and makes my heart pound just a bit faster. (laughs)
At the same time, you have a semi-ballad called "Memories". Would you like to do something in full acoustic, something very romantic with sad love lyrics in the future? Or is making ballads just for the sake of making ballads not in your plans?
No, we won’t make a ballad just for the sake of a ballad. However, if we write a song with great melodies that we really like and it only works as a ballad, then we will of course use it.
How do you evaluate the role of keyboards in your music? Are you satisfied with the balance of rock instruments and keyboard arrangements on the CD, or will there be more symphonic elements or, on the contrary, more guitars on your next releases?
We will actually try to do both! Some songs will be more symphonic-oriented and others more guitar-driven. It all depends on what will work for each individual song. But we are really satisfied with the keyboard arrangements on the album as they are because that’s the way we wanted it from the beginning.
The 14-minute-long final epic "The Voyage" - was it made of a few different songs or was this one big concept? What are the lyrics of this track about? It seems like they’re based on some horror vampiric movie or maybe book…
Its one big concept from beginning to end and 75% of the music was written for this particular track. We did however use some small parts from other songs but they wh
ere rearranged and adapted for “The Voyage”. An example of this is the outro.
And the lyrics on the album in general – were any of them inspired by some books (except the clear connection to "Little Red Riding Hood", of course)? Are you fans of literature? What kind of books do you like?
Most of the lyrics are inspired by movies and history lessons in school. Songs like “Curse Of The Werewolf” and “The Voyage” are inspired by movies, while “Witches of Black Magic” and “Down To The Gallows” come from history/folklore lessons in school. Even in “The Devil” I used the stuff I remembered from school when writing the lyrics. I’m no big fan of reading but when I do I like to read books by Peter Benchley (the guy who wrote “Jaws”), Dean R Koontz and Whitley Strieber.
I haven’t found any live dates on your website. Do you have any plans for live activity with Timeless Miracle? Or are you a studio project only?
We will definitely hit the road at some point but for now we are pretty tied up writing stuff for the second album.
Are you comfortable with being just a four-piece band or will you search for more members in the future? There's so much arrangements in your music that a second guitar player and especially a keyboardist seem to be badly needed to play your songs live…
We have discussed this issue many times but nothing has been decided yet. We are also considering putting the keyboard parts as backing tracks on future live shows. But we would of course prefer to add additional members to the line-up.
A related question - Pontus Lindmark recorded additional lead guitars on album. What was the reason for having him do that? How many of his own ideas did he contribute to the songs?
Hehe, this is the first time anyone has asked us this question! This concerns only two leads on the entire album. The first is the intro lead to “Curse of the Werewolf” were Pontus just wanted the final note to ring a couple milliseconds longer. So instead of us going down to the studio and re-recording it we decided to let him do it. The second one is the theme for “The Devil”, same thing here, we just let him do it for the sake of saving time. The reason this time was that we had made a pretty sloppy job when recording it and it really needed to be fixed. So when it comes to guitar leads and the music in general he didn’t contribute at all. However, he made a really good job mixing the songs and
found really cool solutions to enhance the songs on the finished album.
Before making "Into The Enchanted Chamber" you record three demos. Is there a chance to find any of them now, or are they already collectors’ items? What songs did you have on them? Did any of those end up on "Into The Enchanted Chamber"?
The demos are no longer available because we made very few copies of them and it did not take very long before they were all gone. Most of the tracks on those demos ended up on the album, only two or three tracks didn’t. We had one song called “Watchmen”, that was the first song we ever rehearsed with our former band Trapped, so it’s pretty old. Another track was called “Garden of White Angel” and is a more 1970s rock song than a metal tune.
Let’s make another step deeper into the past - in late 1995 you and Fredrik Nilsson formed the band "Trapped" together with drummer Kim Widfors. What kind of music were you playing back then? What inspired you to choose a career of musicians?
We played more traditional heavy metal back in the early Trapped days but with strong power metal influences. The reason we started Trapped is the same as the reason we are doing this today, and that reason is: its fun and we really love to write and play music. Especially the kind of music that we listen to ourselves and love. I would never put so much effort into this band as I have if I wasn’t 110% committed, and that goes for the rest of the guys too.
Why was Trapped disbanded? And how does the story of Timeless Miracle begin?
Our drummer Kim Widfors wanted to go to England and study bartending so he left the band. There were no conflicts or fights within the band or anything like that. Me and Fredrik decided to continue writing music with the help of a drum machine and later on we started experiment with keyboards. In early 2004 we were approached by a small European metal label, who wanted to sign us, in the record contract it was stated that we should find a suitable recording studio. So we contacted RoastingHouse Studios here in Malmö (our home town) and after playing our demo to them they wanted to manage the band and finance our debut album. We would never have come as far as we have without RoastingHouse and we are truly grateful to them for giving us this chance. Both our deals with Massacre in Germany and Marquee/Avalon in Japan have been provided and handled by them.
How did Jaime Salazar
(ex-Flower Kings) join the band? Jaime is mostly known for being an art/progressive rock drummer, and he’s also a bit older than the rest of the bandmembers – what made him accept the proposal and what new avenues does Timeless Miracle open for him?
Jaime was suggested to us by Anders Theander during the pre-production of the album. He said, “Boys! We are going to need a world-class drummer on this,” so we sent Jaime a copy of “The Enchanted Chamber” demo and he agreed to join us. We have been very lucky to get him because he is a very, very good drummer. Even though he is mostly known for more progressive rock music he is no stranger to the metal genre. He has recorded albums with metal acts like Last Tribe and Opus Atlantica and those bands are pretty similar to our music. Don't know if this will open any new avenues for him more than that he is perhaps reaching a younger audience than before.
“Into The Enchanted Chamber” is your first CD, but you already have a Japanese record deal and even a Japanese fan site. What market is more important for you now – the European or the Japanese? And what is the country from where you get the most positive response?
We don't concentrate on one market any more than another and it's still to early to tell where we will have the largest breakthrough. In the beginning there was a lot of positive feedback from the Benelux countries and especially the Netherlands. Lately there has been a lot of positive response from Russia and the eastern European countries. Spain and Italy have also been very good to us.
You have a bonus track for the Japanese edition called "Church Of The Damned". What is this song like and what is it about? Why was it chosen as a bonus track?
"Church Of The Damned" is a bit more progressive than the other songs on the album. The lyrics are about a young girl who gets lost in the forest and stumbles upon an old derelict church. As the hours draws closer to midnight the air gets colder and damper and when the clock strikes twelve, ghosts rises from the misty graveyard. So this song is very much what Timeless Miracle is about. We actually let our management decide on what track should be used as bonus. They gave us three suggestions and out them we choose this one.
What are your plans for the future of Timeless Miracle? When shall we expect a sophomore album, and what shall we expect from it?
As I said before we are currently writing for the second album and all I can say at the moment is; It will be pretty much as the previous one but with a little more variation in the material. It will be even more orchestrated with classical/folk like music, more vocal arrangements and so on. It’s a bit early to give any release date but we are hoping it will be out around summer next year.
Special thanks to Art Music Group for arranging this interview
Grigory “Starbreaker” Vorontsov
October 18, 2005
28 îêò 2005